Hele's School, in Plympton, Devon, is fully committed to the integration of students requiring special support. As an example of this policy, the School's buildings have been physically modified to permit wheelchair access to most areas of the curriculum. The latest work to be carried out involved the installation of two platform lifts making the whole school accessible to wheelchair users. Leading platform lift supplier, Movement Management was chosen to supply the lifts.
Originally founded in 1658, Hele's School is a co-educational comprehensive school accommodating 1360 pupils between the ages of eleven and eighteen. As a government designated Language College, specialist teaching in modern foreign languages is provided in addition to all the other academic subjects.
The lifts were installed as part of the Governments Schools Access Initiative (SAI). A £100 million, three year programme, which supports capital projects to help local education authorities, throughout the UK, improve access to mainstream schools for pupils with disabilities.
The two lifts are both located in an area, known throughout the school as the underpass, a passage linking the schools lower and upper levels. The first lift, a Companion Prima, provides wheelchair access to the gymnasium, normally reached by climbing three steps. The Prima is designed for use where a small change in level, up to 550mm, inhibits the wheelchair user. It is a compact unit that requires little space and no pit. The platform incorporates a shallow ramp for easy entry and exit. The upper level safety gate locks automatically to ensure user safety.
The second lift, a Companion Prestige, enables wheelchair access to the Schools dining area, science and technology laboratories. Prior to the installation, this would have been impossible, as these amenities are situated on the upper level, a travel distance of 2.70 metres. Powered by a 240v power supply, the Companion Prestige can carry a maximum load of 400kg, and has a platform dimension of 1100mm x 1500mm providing plenty of room for a wheelchair passenger and attendant. The Prestige is supplied with an integral shaft and is suitable for travel heights of up to nine metres. At Hele's School, a small access ramp is provided, enabling the lift to be installed without any additional building works.
Jill Faye, the schools bursar is extremely pleased with the end result. " Whilst, presently, we only have one wheelchair user, the installation of the two Movement Management lifts has enabled her to participate in all aspects of school life. With the help of her carers, it is easy for her to get around and she can access all areas of the curriculum." Jill says.
The whole project was managed by Mark Healey, Senior Buildings Surveyor with Plymouth City Council. "Movement Managements quote was not the cheapest, but their proposals met the performance criteria better than the other companies we
approached. The Companion Prestige lift has better security features and can be easily disabled to prevent unsupervised access - a very important facility in a school environment. They also came up with the most innovative design, to take account of an overhanging soffit where the lift is located." He comments. "Their engineers performed very well under difficult circumstances and I would have no hesitation in specifying Movement Management products again."